For any of you who missed the recent teleseminar about increasing adoptions featuring Bonney Brown from the Nevada Humane Society, here are some notes taken by Susan Daffron, President of the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals, who sponsored the call. FYI the slides from the call are still up on the NAPRP website, so go grab ‘em!
Here are a few tips from Susan’s notes:
1. Look for creative ways to get people in the door and make it easier for people to adopt from you. If you have a facility, Bonney suggests making it more inviting by changing the decor seasonally, keeping some animals in group areas, providing "meet and greet" spaces, and putting cages in walkways where people will notice them. Also make sure you extend your hours to times when people are off work. Make sure your adoption process is as streamlined as possible.
2. Look for ways to make the match. Instead of looking for ways people will "fail" screenings, turn it around. Statistically, most people don't adopt from animal shelters or rescue. Once you have people "in the door" (either physically or virtually) look for solutions people may not have thought about, so the adoption can proceed. People who want a pet will get it somewhere; find ways for adoption to be the best option.
3. Impulse adoptions aren't bad. Bonney pointed out that studies have shown that people who adopt an animal on impulse aren't any more likely to return it than other people. Many of us do things such as get married, have children, and countless other things based on impulse alone. So eliminating a waiting period to adopt, doing Super Adoptions, showcasing pets at PetSmart (or other pet stores), and having your pets available for adoption at events is not going to increase your return rate. Get your animals out there and make it easy for people to fall in love with them.
4. Having "sales" works. In retail, a sale gets people in the door. So do reduced adoption fees. Lowered prices are a great media "hook" so you can get free publicity. You can have the flexibility to offer lower adoption fees if you increase your fundraising and solicit more donations. The Nevada Humane Society has even had free adoption days.
5. Promote your animals individually and aggressively. The Nevada Humane Society runs promotions constantly. They have co-opted almost every holiday and used it as an excuse for an event or promotion to get more people in the door. Bonney says, "every challenge is an opportunity." For example, when you get 54 cats from a hoarding case, it's an opportunity to showcase those animals in the media. If you have a cat that isn't particularly friendly, run a special ad about her that says, "Could you love a beautiful lady with an attitude?"
The statistics are compelling. The Nevada Humane Society increased their adoption rate 53% in a year by lowering barriers to adoption (more stats are on their Web site).
With planning, you can too! Yes, all of the techniques require manpower, but with all the additional promotion and media exposure, it is easier to recruit more volunteers. Bonney also pointed out that you need to ASK for volunteers for very specific tasks and realize that they come and go.